Study Shows That iPads Help People With Vision Loss Read Faster, More Comfortably

Study Shows That iPads Help People With Vision Loss Read Faster, More Comfortably

A study was presented at the 116th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology yesterday that shows the benefit of backlit tablet computers like the iPad help patients with vision loss due to eye diseases read at a comfortable level again.

The study looked at all backlit tablets, scoring the iPad highest in terms of helping readers with low vision due to conditions like macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy read at their previously higher and more comfortable reading level.

Users with moderate vision loss were shown to have increased their reading speed by an average of 15 words per minute using an iPad over time. Those with a higher degree of vision loss of 20/40 or worse in both eyes show the most improvement using iPad style tablets as compared to using print to read. iPad users were shown to improve their reading speed by a minimum of 42 words per minute over using print materials, when font size was equalized to an 18 point font.

The study used a non backlit Kindle, however, which may account for the higher score on iPad devices.

Many people with low vision rely on lighted magnifying glasses or large, cumbersome CCTV devices to both magnify and brighten text from print sources, like the newspaper or traditional books. Many of these adjust contrast and color, as well, to assist people with low vision with eye fatigue or readability. The iPad can do this natively, and there are also several apps available that do even more, like changing the color of the text and/or background.

One of the researchers, Dr. Daniel Roth, said that the findings support the idea that people with low vision could return to near-normal levels of pleasure reading with the use of an iPad or other tablet, which are much less expensive than the CCTV magnifying devices made specifically for people with eye diseases like macular degeneration.

This study will greatly support advocates for those people who have lost their ability to easily and comfortably read books and other such text materials, as they can now read on an iPad as opposed to purchasing a much higher cost device for print magnification, which can sometimes run into the thousands of dollars.

It’s just another example of how mobile technologies for people without disabilities are being used more and more for a growing population of individuals with disabilities, and we can only hope it continues.

  • Lulzworthy

    Study suprisingly finds that larger font sizes are easier to read.

    Shocking.

  • Cortney Sauk

    This study has been brought to you by Apple and the letter A

  • flyoverland

    As someone with Macular Degeneration, I can attest to the story. I am able to read books again by making the type just the right size. I used to buy books not by their content, but by the font size. I find I have to keystone the iPad a bit to take advantage of the parts of my eyes that still have good vision, but that is a small price to pay. I had a both the liquid ink and Fire kindle, but it didn’t seem to work as well.

  • roblef

    Study suprisingly finds that larger font sizes are easier to read.

    Shocking.

    Not just larger font sizes, but backlit LCD displays.

  • roblef

    This study has been brought to you by Apple and the letter A

    Not really. It was an actual team of actual ophthalmologists.

  • roblef

    As someone with Macular Degeneration, I can attest to the story. I am able to read books again by making the type just the right size. I used to buy books not by their content, but by the font size. I find I have to keystone the iPad a bit to take advantage of the parts of my eyes that still have good vision, but that is a small price to pay. I had a both the liquid ink and Fire kindle, but it didn’t seem to work as well.

    Tell me more about “keystoning?” I’m not familiar with the term. I recommend iPads all the time to folks with RP and MD, and it’s great to be able to help them read again with such a cost effective device.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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